What Changes Has the Online Marketing Environment Undergone in the Last Five Years?

In 2011, digital marketing was viewed as a support function of marketing. Companies tried to integrate SEO, content management, and automated e-mail campaigns into their existing organizational structures. The following year, 2012, marked the beginning of inbound marketing, a customer-centric approach to marketing that focuses on creating value for users rather than leads. Inbound marketing rejects the outbound marketing paradigm of pitching to potential customers. Instead, marketing departments need to figureheads generate curiosity and trust among audiences.

The Rise of Big Data

Marketing technology has advanced to the point where marketers can now store and process gigabytes of data, enabling them to target audiences based on the behavior of others.

For instance, if you’re running an e-commerce store, you can use your Big Data analytics tools to identify customers who’ve shown an interest in products that are similar to the one you’re selling. Or, if you’re a real estate agent, you can use online tool to analyze the buying and selling patterns of people in your area to identify hot spots for home buying and selling.

Algorithmic Marketing

Even before the advent of big data, marketers used algorithms to segment audiences and choose campaigns. With the increasing complexity and volume of data, even sophisticated algorithms can’t keep up. This is where automated marketing comes in.

Marketers can use automated email marketing platforms to send messages to their audience. These platforms listen to the recipients’ actions and then pro-actively engage with them through content or offers.

For example, an email marketing software might listen for the keyword “buy” and then present your brand’s shopping features or latest offers. Or, it could scan your social media accounts and then follow up with relevant content.

The Rise of Digital Marketing

In the past, most marketers had to rely on print publications, such as billboards and magazine spreads, to reach potential customers. The advent of online marketing platforms and social media changed all that. Today’s marketers can target audiences based on geography, psychographics, and digital behaviors such as website browsing, app usage, and social media engagement.

Even more significant is the fact that consumers can now consume content anywhere, at any time, on any device. For retailers, this means that marketing messages can appear organically in users’ streams. And since people are already used to consuming information online, the impact can be greater.

Mobile First, Then Everyone Else

In 2018, mobile data usage around the world surpassed desktop data usage for the first time. To ensure that your brand’s content reaches your audience wherever they are, whether they’re on a mobile phone, tablet, or computer, you have to develop a mobile-first strategy.

Your website’s performance on mobile devices will determine whether or not users stay on your site. To engage them, you might want to consider making the most of mobile’s features, such as its zoom capability, which makes text larger and better suited for mobile viewing.

When developing your strategy, you also need to consider how to engage your audience on social media. One of the best ways to do this is by creating engaging content that relates to your audience’s lives. For example, if you run a hotel chain, you could create a Twitter account for your brand and then use it to engage with hotel guests, potential customers, and other stakeholders. If you’re looking to attract bloggers to your brand, consider reaching out to see if they’d be interested in writing about your product or service.

Real-Time Marketing

Marketers can use real-time marketing to engage with current customers, website visitors, and potential customers in near-real time. Twitter, for example, allows marketers to send out tweets to their followers, asking them a question, sharing a blog post, or inviting them to take an online survey. These are typically short, easy to understand messages that will engage with audiences in real time, increasing the interaction rate.

According to HubSpot Blogs research, 40% of buyers trust reviews as much as advertisements, while only 15% trust them as much as salespeople. If you’re looking to attract buyers to your brand, make sure that their first impression of you is a good one. This means developing a voice that they’ll remember and value, as well as creating content that’s relevant, interesting, and useful to them.

Content Awareness

The era of “content awareness” began in 2013 with the emergence of inbound marketing. Content awareness is the ability of a piece of software to identify and understand content, whether that’s a blog post, an article, a video, or an ad. For example, if you run a hotel chain and you notice that a certain type of guest is frequently tweeting about their stay, you can use content awareness to determine which of your properties that person might like based on their preferences.

A content analysis tool like HubSpot Blogs can help you determine the value of your content. Imagine having a team of analysts track your content’s performance, determine its value, and suggest areas for improvement. Based on this information, you can refine your content strategy and ensure that your efforts are always bringing value to your audience.

Personalized Marketing

Since people spend more time on mobile phones and other device types that have larger screens, marketers can use this to their advantage by presenting customized content to users based on their profiles and interests. For example, if you’re a hotel chain and you notice that your attendees at a conference usually stay at the same hotel, you can use this knowledge to present them with offers for that hotel. Or, if you’re an e-commerce store looking to build a customer base in a certain country, you can use interest-based advertising to show users products that they might like based on their location.


To follow consumer interest, marketers can use hyper-targeting, which enables them to group customers based on interests and tailor content and offers to them. For example, if you’re an e-commerce store and you notice that someone frequently visits your site but doesn’t make any purchases, you can use their online behavior to group them with other users who have a similar profile. Then, you can use automation to send follow-up emails or display relevant ads on social media.

The Changing Role of Marketing

In the past, marketing was primarily focused on attracting customers and increasing revenue. Now that most marketing activity takes place online, the role of marketing has changed. According to HubSpot Blogs research, marketers must also consider how to retain customers, encourage word-of-mouth marketing, and determine the value of their efforts.

The changing role of marketing means that new skillsets are needed to succeed. In the next section, you’ll discover how to become a great marketer, regardless of your experience.